Two historic rugby clubs with a rich backlog of rivalry had the chance to write the newest entry to the tale of Coventry Rugby vs Birmingham Moseley on Saturday afternoon. The weather was near perfect, if a little breezy, for some running rugby to entertain a busy Butts Park Arena. Home and away fans gathered as Pre-Season preparations continued.
With plenty of familiar faces in the Moseley line-up, there were a few cases of friendly fire in the opening minutes, as a number of bone-crunch tackles were put in from both sides. It was Coventry who began with the greater share of attacking possession, and after a couple ‘false starts’ ending in unforced knock-ons, the first try was scored after 10 minutes, raising the decibel level within Butts Park quite considerably. After a good attacking move from the line out, Cov moved the ball neatly to find James Martin on the wing, who provided a smart finish in the corner. Patrick Pelligrini, starting the game at fly-half, added the extras from close to the touchline. (7-0)
Our visitors were not about surrender so early on it to proceedings, as shortly after the first water break of the match, Moseley responded emphatically. After a penalty in midfield, Moseley kicked themselves inside the Coventry 22, and after a drive from the line out, Suvwe Obano snuck his way over the line to score. Lewis missed a drop kick conversion attempt as the ball fell off the tee mid run-up, showcasing the wind that swirling around the BPA. (7-5)
Coventry replied with a score of their own almost immediately. A break in midfield from an impressive Ollie Betteridge, before a smart offload to full back, Louis Brown, who raced home virtually untouched. Pellegrini narrowly missed the conversion. (12-5)
10 minutes before the end of the first period, and Moseley once again got themselves back in to the contest. An error at the line out handed possession to the visitors who sustained an extended period of pressure close to the Coventry line. Cov defended well, before Obano crashed over once again for his second of the day. This time Lewis landed the conversion for his side and things were level once more. (12-12)
As supporters started heading towards the bars to miss the half-time rush, Moseley thought they had taken the lead for the first time. A move that went the length of the pitch, looked destined to end in a try as Obano (once again) went steaming down the wing – only to be stopped by a brave tackle from Louis Brown. This gutsy act of defence brought an end to the first half, and both teams headed to the sheds as they started.
The first 10 minutes of the second period matched that of first half, as both sides threw punches, neither managing to truly land. That was until the 51 minute mark, when Coventry would begin what proved to be a 3-try spell in quick succession that took the game away from the National One side.
The first came from a familiar sight for Cov fans, Jordon Poole off the back of a driving maul, which was a useful weapon in last season’s cup run. Evan Mitchell, now in the number 10 position, landed the extra two points. (19-12) Mitchell initiated the second score with a smart chip over the rushing defence. A confused Moseley side were perhaps guilty of stopping after what they deemed to be a Coventry knock on, as Mitchell finished what he had started as he scored under the sticks, and converted his own try. (26-12) The third try in the brace, came from Adam Peters, who worked tirelessly all afternoon, after a delicious series of Coventry offloads. (33-12)
The loudest cheer of the game came after a period of Mosely pressure was well absorbed by the Coventry defence, before a turnover led to Shea Cornish finding himself in broken play – which is a deadly combination. The Exeter man had the chance to showcase his blistering pace, and he did not disappoint. Cornish ran in the score from the half way line, before Mitchell duly converted. (40-12)
That was that, and both sides shook hands after benefiting from a useful pre-season test. However, next week things take a step up, as Premiership giants, Bath Rugby come to town to get their own pre-season preparations underway at Broadstreet RFC. Thank you to everyone that visited Butts Park yesterday and added to the incredible atmosphere, and we look forward to having ‘Cov in the Community’ next Saturday, as we manage to unite three rugby clubs at three different levels of the English game with one fixture.